Saturday, May 29, 2010

"The End" Analysis (That No One Probably Cares About)

I feel like this is a day late and a dollar short, since everyone has had massive discussions about Lost over the past week - but whatever. Here it is, in case anyone cares!

One week ago, I said the following:

“Part of me thinks that we shouldn't jump right into our normal over-analyzing of the episode, nit-picking details and trying to reconcile what we just saw with the previous 119 hours of the show. On a strictly emotional level, the Lost finale was fully satisfying, emotional, epic, sweeping, and felt more important than any television finale I've ever seen. The wife was in tears. I was confused as I tried to work it all out in my mind. In short, it was everything you would want from the final episode of Lost. If you didn't tear up a little when Vincent laid down next to Jack, you do not have a heart. The final ten minutes were about as perfect as anything I could have imagined for the last Lost - and the episode as a whole had everything I wanted - action, closure, callbacks to the major moments from the previous five seasons, and plenty of perfect "character moments" that are really going to make us all miss these characters.”

I still stand by that statement 100%.

However, the time has come to turn our critical eye to “The End” and do a full-blown traditional analysis. Let’s leave our emotions at the door and get down to business. What really happened in “The End”?

The End. One of my biggest complaints about the final season of Lost is the writers’ inability to frame the real “danger” on the Island. We were often told that it was a very bad thing if SmokeLocke left the Island – going so far as telling us that it would mean the end of existence – but never told why. They left it ambiguous, and because of that, the motives and actions of the final two episodes took a dramatic shift from what we were anticipating all season long. Let me explain:

  • Anti-Jacob just wanted to leave the Island. However, as long as Jacob was alive, he could not do so.
  • Even once Anti-Jacob found his loophole and killed Jacob (something that took him thousands of years to accomplish), he still couldn’t leave the Island as long as Jacob’s candidates were alive.
  • One Anti-Jacob found out about Desmond last episode, suddenly he decided that destroying the Island was a crucial part of his plan… or perhaps just an added bonus.
  • However, once Desmond removed the Cork from the Heart of the Island, Anti-Jacob immediately left for his boat to escape before the Island sank, even though a number of Jacob’s candidates were still alive and well.

It seems a little illogical that after spending thousands of years working towards one goal, Anti-Jacob would abandon it and focus on something else… and that magically, the rules surrounding the candidates tying him to the Island would no longer apply.

Yes, it’s possible to come up with some explanations for this – which we’ll touch on in a moment – but the audience shouldn’t have to make these logical stretches to understand the major conflict of the season. In the end, the battle between SmokeLocke and Jack was important to us because SmokeLocke killed Jack’s friends – but it lacked any sort of additional stakes where we cared if SmokeLocke left the Island or not… which, even though the fight was pretty badass, left it pretty hollow. Heck, part of the audience was probably still rooting for SmokeLocke, feeling sorry for him being trapped on the Island all these years. All he wanted was to go home… something he never got to do.

Jack. The best explanation for SmokeLocke’s actions is that once Jacob “knighted” Jack as the new Protector of the Island, he no longer had to kill the remaining candidates. He only had to worry about killing Jack – and when he left Jack knocked out with the Island collapsing around him, SmokeLocke assumed that Jack would eventually die as the Island sunk to the bottom of the ocean. (Again, for a guy that forged the most complex plan in human history to find his loophole, this seems like an outrageously unrealistic action on his part – there were no “rules” forbidding him from killing Jack. Even if this was the case, why not stab him in the heart before running off to the boat? Illogical.)

As for Jack himself, he finally fulfilled the destiny that brought him back to the Island in the first place. In Jack’s eyes, he’s screwed up everything else in his life (failed marriage to Sarah, failed engagement to Kate, failed career, drug addition, horrible beard), the Island is his one chance to right all those wrongs by doing something good, something important, and make his life all worthwhile. What Jack doesn’t realize – or doesn’t utilize – is that from the moment that Jacob makes him the new Protector of the Island, Jacob’s “rules” no longer apply. The new “rules” are Jack’s to make, but he doesn’t realize it (another example of the poor transition on Jacob’s part. He would never make it in upper management).

The only thing that Jack knows is that he’s confident in his plan, even if he doesn’t know exactly what it is. He knows that he is somehow going to use Desmond to stop and kill SmokeLocke, and that he, and John Locke, were right about the Island all along. It turns out that they were right.

Desmond. From Desmond’s perspective, ever since he was blasted by Widmore’s electromagnetic experiment on the Island, he apparently saw his afterlife – and it was a happy one. Widmore loved him, he was just starting a new relationship with Penny (free of all the drama and mistakes he made the first time), and he didn’t have some pesky kid running around forcing him to be responsible. What’s not to like?

That’s exactly why Desmond basically “gave up” on life at this point. He was back on the Island, he wasn’t confident that he would ever get off and be with Penny again in life, so he just wanted to die so that he could be with her in the afterlife.

It brings up an interesting, super deep philosophical question – if you knew that you had a perfect, happy afterlife waiting for you after you died, what’s the point in living through all the crap in life? Would you just look for the quickest and easiest way to kill yourself to get to that “happily ever after”, or would you continue to soldier on through the trials and hardships of life?

For Desmond, he picks the first option. He adopts the opinion that “none of this matters” on the Island, and thinks that he needs to carry out one final mission to “save the world” (again), and once he’s done, he will die and return to his “happily ever after life”.

He was wrong.

As for Widmore and Jacob, Desmond was basically another “failsafe” switch – a last ditch effort. Their original intention was to use Desmond to pull the Cork in case SmokeLocke was successful in killing all the candidates. This would render SmokeLocke mortal – but destroy the Island in the process. As a mortal, I suppose SmokeLocke leaving the Island wouldn’t be such a bad thing (since he couldn’t go all Smokey on the world and rule the human race with an iron-smokey fist)… but this also means that it really wasn’t that important that the Island exist in the first place, right? If the destruction of the Island meant that the light at the heart of it would go out, obviously it wouldn’t bring about the end of the world / hope / existence – otherwise, Jacob wouldn’t have sent Desmond back to the Island as a safety precaution that all the candidates died.


Remember my original complaint about the writers not framing the danger of this season very well? This is exhibit B in support of that argument. The spent a season telling us how important it was to protect the Island, or else “all hell will break loose”, but then we find out that Jacob’s backup plan is to allow the Island to crumble as long as it renders SmokeLocke mortal.

Disappointing. But I digress.

Two weeks ago, I settled on “power” as being the thing at the heart of the Island – the thing that is inside each of us a little, the thing that everyone wants more of, but if someone had total control of, it would be a very bad thing. After watching “The End”, I still think that analysis is spot on.

The existence of the Cork in the Heart of the Island indicates that there was a time on the Island, pre-Cork. Once the Cork was in place, it somehow harnessed the power that was emanating from the Heart of the Island, which in turn gave the Island all its magical powers and “unique electromagnetic properties”. The essence of Smokey – the heart of his power – was tied to the Island. The area immediately around the Cork was so close to this power, that it would kill anyone who came close – a nice defense mechanism from preventing anyone from removing it… except Desmond. Once Desmond removed the Cork, that power was released, and SmokeLocke became mortal. Unfortunately, with all that pent up power suddenly being released, the Island began to fall apart under the impact of this surge of power. Even more unfortunate for Desmond, he survived the whole incident. Although logic would tell you that he would have eventually died as the Island collapsed, were it not for Jack, in his mind, this was the worst case scenario.

He was back trapped on the Island.

Smokey. After the epic battle with SmokeLocke (where Jack gains not only the bleeding cut on his neck that we saw throughout his Flash Sideways, but also the fatal cut in his side that we all interpreted to be a scar from his appendectomy – but now I guess it could be either), Jack realizes that his rule as king of the Island will be short-lived, since it’s up to him to replace the Cork and restore balance to the Island now that SmokeLocke had been killed. He passes the torch to Hurley (fittingly using the Oceanic 815 water bottle), re-corks the Island, but somehow is not killed by the exposure to the electromagnetic power that again begins flowing from the Heart of the Island. Instead Jack is “spit out” from the Heart of the Island just like Anti-Jacob was – where he stumbles to his death in the bamboo forest with Vincent by his side.


All of this brings up one big question – what happened to Smokey with all these transitions?

My best theory from “Across the Sea” was that The Woman was both Protector and Smokey rolled into one, and she split those powers among Jacob and Anti-Jacob to create a balance and limit the chance for man to abuse those powers. Jack became the new Jacob, but SmokeLocke still had the Smokey powers (since Kate’s bullets this episode had no effect on him). Once SmokeLocke died, what happened to those Smokey powers? Did they return to the Heart of the Island? If so, why didn’t Jack become Smokey when he was exposed to the Heart of the Island? Or is it that since Jack (and later Hurley) were “pure of heart”, that there was no Smokey anymore?

In the grand scheme of things, I’m not losing any sleep over these questions – but based on the Egyptian hieroglyphics we’ve seen over the years, as long as the Island has existed, there has been a Smokey on it as well. For Smokey to suddenly cease to exist because Jack and Hurley are “good people” seems a little silly to me. On the other hand, the image of Hurley “hulking out” and becoming Smokey in a moment of rage seems super awesome to me, so that’s how I’ll pretend things ended up.

I think that wraps up the “main storyline” on the Island, but there are a few side items worth noting before we move on to the Flash Sideways…

Rose and Bernard and Vincent. It turns out that Sayid didn’t save Desmond from the Well, but Rose or Bernard or Vincent did. So even though Sayid did end up saving our Survivors from the bomb on the Sub, he wasn’t suddenly “100% good” again after his encounter with Desmond. As for Rose, Bernard, and Vincent, their existence on the Island was finally explained (they time traveled along with our Survivors). They remained uninvolved in all the silly drama that our Survivors found themselves entangled in, and as a result, had a pretty happy little life on the Island. In my head, I picture Hurley, Ben, Desmond, Rose, Bernard, and Vincent having picnics on the Island and talking about the good old days for years to come until each of them meet their natural deaths.

Of course, Vincent never dies. The Island has a thing for dogs.

Benjamin Linus. The flip-flopping of Benjamin Linus was a little far-fetched during the final few episodes of the series. I suppose we can justify it as being a “long con” that he was trying to pull on SmokeLocke – one that conveniently allowed him to kill Widmore in the process (talk about two birds with one stone), but even at the beginning of “The End” he was putting a gun in Sawyer’s back and leading him to SmokeLocke. Then at the end, he was helping our Survivors kill SmokeLocke. But the most confusing thing of all is the way that he magically escaped from being pinned underneath that tree. I was sure that was going to be Ben’s redemption. He saves Hurley from being crushed, but ends up dying in the process. Instead, he gets what he wanted all along – a true role of importance on the Island, as Hurley’s #2.

Richard Alpert and Frank. Thank God that both of these characters ended up being alive and well on the Island, saving them from unceremonious off-screen deaths that neither deserved. Alpert is finally aging, and Frank fulfilled his destiny of flying Ajira 316 after all (yeah, still super unrealistic to me).


Claire. I’m sorry, but Claire really didn’t add anything to this season. The scenes with her were always awkward, the storyline with her being “claimed” by SmokeLocke never really panned out to anything, and she did little besides throw out empty threats to our Survivors and provide a purpose for Kate being back on the Island. They probably should have just let her die in Season Four.

Okay – I think that wraps up my thought about the Island. Let’s move on to the Flash Sideways.

Flash Sideways. First of all, should we continue to call them the Flash Sideways? Per Christian Shephard, there is no such thing as linear time in the Flash Sideways, but they are all taking place after each character dies in life – making them Flash Forwards, right? Oh well, we’ve called them Flash Sideways for this long, might as well stick with it for “The End”.

After a season of waiting, we finally got our explanation for what the Flash Sideways represented – a place created by the Survivors so that they could meet up before moving on to the next stage of their afterlife (heaven?). I loved this explanation because it made everything that happened on the Island over the past six seasons “count”. Dead characters weren’t magically alive again. People didn’t get a second chance to correct their mistakes. Everyone died, like I was hoping for – but by having the Flash Sideways, it wasn’t the most depressing finale in television history. It had a happy, hopeful ending.

Having said that, I definitely have some problems with how these Flash Sideways were handled this season.

The biggest complaint that I have is that for the first time in Lost history, the writers were intentionally trying to trick the audience with red herrings that make no sense now that we know the truth. Why would Jack be married to Juliet, instead of Kate – who was much more of his “true love” in life? Why would characters like Charlie and Faraday say things like “we aren’t supposed to be here” and “none of this is real” – when in fact, even if it wasn’t the final stop in the afterlife, it was apparently a necessary stop along the way? I understand that the Flash Sideways could be viewed as a sort of “dream world”, where things are based in reality, but slightly different – but some of it still feels cheap. We’re going to tackle some explanations for these differences in a moment, but it still doesn’t seem right that we’re making these stretches to explain something that should make total sense at face value.

In short, I think we could have spent a lot less time in the Flash Sideways and achieved the same end result.

The other thing that was weird was the collection of characters who “created” this reality. With the exception of Boone and Locke, who were kinda BFFs on the Island back in the day, it seems like unless you had a significant romance with another character on the show, you weren’t invited to the “moving on” party at the end. This meant that there was no unifying factor between all the characters who had their epiphanies and “moved on”, which seems a little weird. But I can’t deny that it made for a great, emotional final scene for Lost.

Let’s look at each character who “let go”, and what caused each to do so:

Boone – we never learned what led to Boone’s epiphany, but I’m guessing it had something to do with getting over Shannon, again.

Rose and Bernard – not shown, but it seems like both of them understood what the Flash Sideways were from the start. Rose made a comment to Jack about “letting go” on Oceanic 815, Bernard was weird and cryptic when Jack talked to him, and both seemed to have found a peace in life that might have carried over into the after-life.

Claire – giving birth to Aaron, causing her to “let go” of the guilt she felt for abandoning him in the first place?

Kate – helping Claire give birth to Aaron, which only happened because she stopped running and helped a very pregnant Claire in the Flash Sideways world… so I guess it was really about no longer running away? It’s a stretch…

Charlie – touching Claire, which showed him that he could be a good person and loving pseudo-father, instead of a junkie rock and roller? This makes no sense either, since Flash Sideways Charlie didn’t really do anything to prove that he could make the right decision and sober up – he was just in the right place at the right time… thanks to Hurley’s intervention.

Sun and Jin – seeing Ji-Yeon’s ultrasound, which helped them “let go” of abandoning their child in life so that they could die together? That doesn’t make much sense either, but it’s the best I’ve got.

Sayid and Shannon – touching each other, which apparently means that even though Sayid spent his entire life searching for Nadia, two weeks on the Island with a hot blonde made her his soul mate. Likewise for Shannon, two weeks on the Island with an Iraqi torturer was the best time of her life? It makes no sense, unless you play the “Sayid realized that he couldn’t be with Nadia because he didn’t deserve her after all the bad things he did” card – but it’s the afterlife! Isn’t that your chance to “let go” of the wrongs of your past?

Locke – regaining his ability to walk reminded him of all his time on the Island, which definitely was the best part of his life. Noticeably absent from his after life epiphany? His fiancĂ©, Helen – so I guess he was “moving on” from her and didn’t really love her after all? Weird.

Libby and Hurley – kissing, which let them finally have the relationship that they were robbed from on the Island?

Desmond and Penny – touching, which might have helped Desmond get over his abandonment of Penny twice in life thanks to that damned Island (who knows if he ever returned back a second time or not). But Penny? She’s definitely the oddball inclusion in the final scene, having never set foot on the Island or even met the majority of the characters in the final church scene. But it made for good TV, I suppose.

Sawyer and Juliet – perhaps the best part of any Flash Sideways epiphany, we finally realize that there was no greater meeting in Juliet’s “it worked” comment from “LA X” – she was simply experiencing the moment in the Flash Sideways where Sawyer got his candy bar. Although if you think about it, this means that she must have been living through the Flash Sideways for quite some time before she actually died – and in dying, she jumped to the place in the Flash Sideways where she had her moment with Sawyer… unless I’m thinking too linearly about the Flash Sideways and time doesn’t really work the same way there. I also loved that she summed up all the weird stuff with the Island and the Cork with her “you an unplug it and plug it back in and that’s technically legal” line. Love Juliet.

But again, what did either of them actually “let go” to earn this epiphany? They just touched. Neither did anything to overcome the issues they had in life or prove that they learned some lesson, did they?

Jack – finally we have Jack. You could make the argument that Jack was the one who created the Flash Sideways, and it would make a lot of sense. In it, he learned to get over his daddy issues by being a good father to David (PS – sucks to be you David, you don’t actually exist or get to “move on” with your parents), accepted his own father’s death, and performed the ultimate “fix” of John Locke. If it was all about Jack, the Flash Sideways would have made perfect sense.

You can see the issues, right? Aside from a few characters, the Flash Sideways weren’t really about “letting go”, they were about connecting with your loved ones in the afterlife so that you didn’t have to go on alone. It’s like “live together or die alone” taken to the extreme. I’m fine with this explanation – but again, if this is the case, then a lot of the stuff that we saw in the Flash Sideways was unnecessary filler… it really didn’t matter what fake lives these characters were living in the Flash Sideways because they were all fake – all that mattered is that they found their loved ones, regardless of what it took to find them.


Wrap Up. Originally, I was going to post my “what I would have done differently” thoughts here – but I think I’ll wait and do that for my next post. For now, let’s just focus on what actually happened in “The End”. In the end, I think that “The End” was a great episode – and I think that most of my issues with the episode actually had nothing to do with the episode, but rather the ones that led up to it. As you can see, looking back on the final season as a whole, there was a lot that didn’t make a lot of sense and seemed a little sloppy. But we’ll get to that later as well.

I feel like everyone is all burned out on discussion of “The End”, but if there are any outstanding items you’d like my take on, feel free to post them in the comments. Otherwise, I’ll be back in the next few days with my overall thoughts on the series and what I would have done differently.


Monday, May 24, 2010

Unanswered Questions Report Card

The final season of Lost was not without its faults. I’ll be the first to admit that, and will touch on that subject in much further detail in the near future. It’s totally understandable that the series finale didn’t connect with everyone the same way that it connected with me – it was more about the emotional connections with the characters and the big picture “fate” of the characters we grew to know and love over the years than the mythology. If you loved Lost for the sci-fi elements, you were disappointed. If you loved Lost for the characters and their relationships, you loved it. If you loved both (like me), you probably came down somewhere in between, depending on how the final scene connected with you. Again, for me, it was fantastic.

It’s very easy for a show to have a great season finale. I can rattle off a dozen off the top of my head that blew me away. However, it’s much harder to do a great series finale. Thinking back to all my favorite shows over the years, I can only think of two candidates: Lost and Scrubs. Both found a balance between staying true to the series and sending it off in an extremely emotional way that stuck with me for days and weeks after the fact.

But that’s not the point of this post. It seems like the biggest complaint that people had about “The End” is that it didn’t answer the big questions that they still had about the series. So I thought I would revisit what I deemed to be the “big questions” before this season began to see how many were answered… and how many were not ( – then we’ll see if this argument is justified:

10. Juliet and the Jughead – ANSWERED. I thought we would get this reveal early in Season Six – but as it turns out, it took until the final moments of the series before we got the real answer – The Jughead simply caused the Incident, just like Miles had predicted. It didn’t create an alternate timeline, it didn’t change the past, it simply reinforced “whatever happened, happened” – just like I had hoped all along. (Note: It also seems that a side effect was the transportation of our Survivors from 1977 to 2007.)

9. Adam and Eve – ANSWERED. Adam and Eve = Anti-Jacob and The Woman. Was it anti-climatic? A little? Was it proof that the writers had this whole storyline planned from the start? Hell no. Was it a question that was answered? Yes.

8. The Island History – PARTIALLY ANSWERED. More than any other question, this is the one that I wish we got a little more answers to. Yes, we learned how the Black Rock arrived on the Island, who built the FDW, and the history of Richard Alpert… which actually were the three things I specifically mentioned regarding this question in my original post – but I’m greedy and still want more. I didn’t need to go any further back in time to learn about the Egyptians (which would have undoubtedly come across as ridiculous), but I would have liked a little better answer about why it was such a bad thing if the Island was destroyed and what would have happened if SmokeLocke had escaped the Island. Getting these two additional pieces of information would have gone a long way in justifying everything that happened on Lost, and helping us understand the importance of the final battles between SmokeLocke and our Survivors, since we would know the repercussions of losing that battle.

7. Good and Evil – ANSWERED. Even though the answer was… there is no answer. As I predicted, things stayed predictably “gray” throughout the final season. Even when the writers went so far as to make SmokeLocke the “bad guy” by killing off a number of fan-favorites, they turned around and made his character totally sympathetic in the next episode by revealing what made him the way he was. The only disappointment here is characters like Ben, who flipped back and forth from good to evil numerous times throughout the last few episodes on a whim.

6. Jacob and Anti-Jacob – ANSWERED. They were two brothers, born on the Island, who became the Protector and Security System for the Island after some heavy manipulation by previous Protector, “The Woman”.

5. The Others – UNANSWERED. Yes, we spent some time at the start of the season in the Temple… which was a huge disappointment. But we never learned much about the nature of the Others and their society on the Island. Were they continually getting instructions from Jacob via Alpert? Did they develop the rules of their society on their own? Were they truly “worshippers” of Jacob who were acting to protect the Island, or were they a group of people being tricked by Anti-Jacob via Ben all along? What was up with the kidnapping and costumes from the early seasons? The writers had plenty of opportunities to answer these questions every season, and every season they decided not to – which means they didn’t know, didn’t think it was important, or wanted to leave it intentionally ambiguous to let the Others be whatever we wanted them to be. Disappointing.

4. Fate vs. Destiny – ANSWERED. Jacob brought our Survivors to the Island to become candidates to replace him, because they were all individuals who needed the Island as much as the Island needed them. Although I still think it would have been cooler to find out that Jacob didn’t know much, and was retroactively evaluating his candidates based on who accidentally ended up on the Island, the body of evidence seems to point to the opposite – Jacob was a flawed individual who “pushed” characters in a way to bring them to the Island. He wasn’t perfect – his actions resulted in the deaths of hundreds of people over the years (at least), but he brought them to the Island. It wasn’t just a coincidence.

3. Smokey – ANSWERED. We didn’t get the “nuts and bolts” answer of what Smokey was made of, but most of us didn’t want that anyways. We learned that Smokey was SmokeLocke who was actually Anti-Jacob, who turned into Smokey after being thrown into the heart of the Island a long time ago. There are still unanswered questions about why the ash and pylons kept him out, why he killed some but not others, and other miscellaneous “rules” that would have been nice to find out – but we got the big answer.

2. The Funky Island Stuff – PARTIALLY ANSWERED. We got answers to the Numbers, Richard never aging, the Sickness and the Whispers… and a lot of people thought they were lacking. So maybe it’s for the better that we never got firm answers to the other items in this category, like the time travel, moving the Island, random appearing and disappearing of Others, etc. More than any other question, I’m okay with leaving some of this stuff unanswered. The Island is a mysterious place where magical things happen – to find out exactly why takes away some of the “magic” from the equation. But like most, it would have been nice to get a little closure to the Aaron / Walt storylines from the early seasons.

1. The Fate of the Survivors of Oceanic 815 – ANSWERED. The most important question of all, and one that was totally answered in the finale. In short, they die. We all die, eventually.

  • Jack sacrifices himself to save the Island (and world?).
  • Hurley becomes the new Jacob, Ben becomes the new Alpert.
  • Alpert, Kate, Sawyer, Miles, Claire, and Frank escape the Island on Ajira 316 to live out the rest of their days in the “real world”.
  • Sun, Jin, and Sayid die on the Island.

As predicted, everyone got a little bit of redemption on Lost. Their time on the Island made them better people, helped them “let go” of the baggage they brought to the Island, and find love.

So looking back, it looks like in the end we received somewhere between 70% and 90% of the big questions answered. Sure, it’s easy to come up with a bunch of smaller questions – but these were the big ones I had before the final season started. Looking at them, I have a hard time being upset at the finale using the argument that “they didn’t answer any questions”.

But again, as we discussed earlier this season – Lost is open to interpretation. Maybe you didn’t feel like any of these questions were answered “enough” for you to be satisfied.

One more thing - after the episode ended, I started looking back at some of my earlier posts to see how close / far away from the real ending we were way back in Season One. I came across the following post from April of 2005:

Locke is already the most sage-like character on the island. Is he really serving as their "Christ-figure", giving them guidance for how to live through their new life on the island? If you buy the whole "They’re in purgatory" theory, it could be that when Locke met the monster way back when, he was changed to become a guide of sorts to get everyone else’s souls to the same place he is. That’s why he’s working to get them to "release their inner demons" and "move on", even though everyone has a TON of past baggage in their lives.

Replace “Desmond” with “Locke” and it’s pretty damn close to what we saw in Lost’s final season. That’s pretty cool.

What next? “The End” analysis, complete with an analysis of the big picture storyline of Lost. For now, keep on discussing – but let’s keep it civil, people!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

"The End" Instant Reactions!

Brian's One Word Review: Powerful.

Part of me thinks that we shouldn't jump right into our normal over-analyzing of the episode, nit-picking details and trying to reconcile what we just saw with the previous 119 hours of the show. On a strictly emotional level, the Lost finale was fully satisfying, emotional, epic, sweeping, and felt more important than any television finale I've ever seen. The wife was in tears. I was confused as I tried to work it all out in my mind. In short, it was everything you would want from the final episode of Lost. If you didn't tear up a little when Vincent laid down next to Jack, you do not have a heart. The final ten minutes were about as perfect as anything I could have imagined for the last Lost - and the episode as a whole had everything I wanted - action, closure, callbacks to the major moments from the previous five seasons, and plenty of perfect "character moments" that are really going to make us all miss these characters.

But I suppose I need to give you something, so that you can sound smart and impress your colleagues tomorrow morning at work - so here's my take on the ending.

Flash Sideways. Finally, it all makes sense. Although this is definitely up to some interpretation, here's my Cliff's Notes understanding of the Flash Sideways.

  1. The Flash Sideways were, effectively, purgatory.
  2. The world in the Flash Sideways was somehow mutually created by all of the Lost characters, as a place to "meet up" before moving on. Per Christian Shephard, "this is a place that you all made together so that you could fine one another. The most important part of your life was the time you spent with these people. That's why all of you are here. No one does it alone. You needed all of them, and they needed you." For what? "To remember and to let go."
  3. The Flash Sideways were a place to work out and accept the things that each person did in life, to come to terms with their lives before moving on to the afterlife - whatever that may be. It's a beautiful symbolism that ties into the overall Lost theme - finding redemption in life, accepting those decisions in death - and then MOVING ON.
  4. Everyone dies - but they didn't all die together. We're trying to fit the Flash Sideways in a very linear timeline, and that's the problem. "There is no now, here." They're a different world - separate from the physical one that we live in. Some characters died long ago (Charlie), some died in "The End" (Jack), and some are going to die, even though we don't know when or how (Hurley, Ben, Kate, Sawyer, Frank, Miles, Claire... and even Richard Alpert - although I didn't see him in the final scene).

Beautiful, hopeful, powerful stuff.

There will be all sorts of full analyses of this episode and the entire series forthcoming - but for now, I kinda want to sit back and bask in the Losty goodness of this episode (and watch Jimmy Kimmel).

But for now - discuss!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

"What They Died For" Instant Reactions!

Brian's Two Word Review: Finally, but...

A lot finally happened in this episode that we've been anxiously awaiting for most of the season (if not longer)... but the payoff didn't exactly live up to the hype in a lot of cases. Still, it's pretty clear that we are moving full steam ahead, and I'm pretty pumped for the Lost-a-palooza on Sunday night. I know a lot of people were complaining about the show for the past week, but I think it's shaping up to be a pretty fantastic finale - if nothing else, this episode gave us a hint of how the final episode is going to feel. Epic. Powerful. Final.

So what happened?

Across the Sea. We finally understand why the writers chose to show "Across the Sea" so late in the game - there was a lot in this episode that directly referenced that episode... although give the Lost fans a little credit - we probably would have remembered it even if it happened two months ago, after all, most of us still remember minute details of things that happened five years ago on the show. Still, it makes that episode a little more meaningful in the grand scheme of things, which should appease some of the people so unhappy with it.

Jacob. I also finally understand why they writers had to wait so long for Jacob to finally explain his plan to the Candidates in person - but it's been pretty obvious for the entire season that Jack was the only real Candidate, wasn't it? He was the one who was suddenly talking about "destiny" and "letting go" and "believing in the Island". That's what you call nailing the job interview right there. But having said that, couldn't Jacob have given this speech earlier in the season, and then have a few episodes of the Candidates reacting to this monumental decision in trying to figure out if they can trust him, if any of them want to do it, and what it would mean? Even if Jack would eventually make the right decision, wouldn't it have been nice to see him think about the consequences of his decisions (more than the two seconds between him asking "how long do I have to do this job?" and drinking the water)? Since so much of the season has seemed to be lacking an overall focus, it seems like this storyline could have been a good way to gain some traction.

Speaking of Jacob - was this the last we'll ever see of him? Apparently the only reason that we were seeing images of him on the Island was because Ilana gathered his ashes from the fire, keeping him from fully burning away... although when Ilana gathered those ashes, the fire was already out - so it's not like they were going to burn away anyways. It seems as though his brief two minute speech were the only instructions he was going to give Jack and Co - now it's on them to figure out what to do with them. But you can't blame him, at least he gave more instructions to them than he received from The Woman when she made him the new Protector of the Island.

Candidates. In regards to the Candidates themselves, we finally got an explanation for WHY Jacob brought all these people to the Island in the first place, and it's something we've noted for quite some time - the lives of all of these people were crappy before the Island. They needed the Island as much as it needed them... but this is pretty crappy for all the happy, good people on Oceanic 815 who died unnecessarily in the process, isn't it?

We also confirmed the reason that Kate was no longer a Candidate - once she "became a mother", she found her purpose, she had someone to care for, someone who needed her as much as she needed them. She no longer needed the Island. This also seems to establish that Jin was the Kwon Candidate, not Sun - since she also had a child. However, Sun and Jin are another great example of Jacob's flawed logic. Since they fell in love and had each other after arriving on the Island, shouldn't this have eliminated both from being Candidates long ago?

It's also pretty funny that as much as we fans of Lost have eliminated Kate from the running of being the new Protector of the Island, Jacob laughs at us and says "it's just a line of chalk on the wall - if you still want the job, it's yours!" Maybe we shouldn't have been obsessing over all the names this season. I think anyone left on the Island is now a possible Candidate... although those numbers are getting pretty thin.

Death. After two years, countless theories, and a ton of buildup, we FINALLY got the confrontation between Widmore and Benjamin Linus that we've all been waiting for... and it ended without any explanation of their history or "the rules" between the two of them. I have to admit, it was pretty sweet that Ben FINALLY got his revenge on Widmore for killing Alex - but the slaughter of both Zoe and Widmore just seemed like the writers didn't have any other use for them - and their purpose was pretty much just to bring Desmond to the Island.

Note: Widmore also claims that Jacob is the one who visited him and told him what to do. One, that would have been a pretty awesome scene to show earlier this season, rather than just hearing about it after the fact. Two, this adds some more blood on Jacob's hands - since he basically led Widmore to the slaughter of SmokeLocke.

In other shocking news - was that the quick and dirty death of Richard Alpert, the guy who couldn't kill himself if he tried earlier this season is suddenly swept away by Smokey and dies off camera? Logic would tell you that this is crazy talk, and he'll most certainly show up again - perhaps with Frank (come on Frank, I was hoping you were going to wash up on shore in the beginning of the episode!), and Miles (who conveniently ran off, setting the stage for him to play some huge role in the finale) - but if not, that was a super crappy way for him to go.

As for Zoe, it's interesting that SmokeLocke said "if she's not going to talk to me, she's useless" - maybe we're supposed to take the instructions of Dogen literally. If you let SmokeLocke talk to you, he has some power of manipulation over you, and you can't kill him. If you don't let him talk to you, you have the power over him to kill him. But if this is the case, what character is left that hasn't talked to him, who can kill him in the end? Or is it just a case of Zoe being a worthless character whose time was up (my vote)?

Benjamin Linus. So... did Ben just do a professional-wrestling-style bad guy turn, or is he manipulating SmokeLocke to eventually save the day? I'm really hoping for the later, since the past few seasons have really shown Ben growing into a sympathetic character on the show. I can forgive his murder of Charles Widmore (they had a pretty long-standing grudge, and payback's a bitch), but if Ben suddenly becomes SmokeLocke's right-hand man who tries to murder the Candidates, it would be pretty illogical... and where is Claire in all this? Left on Hydra Island, all alone, again? Man, no wonder she has abandonment issues.

The Island. As many predicted, Desmond is the "wild card", invincible to the electromagnetic properties on the Island, capable of pulling another "fail safe" maneuver to prevent SmokeLocke from leaving... but apparently SmokeLocke can also use this to destroy the Island? I'm not sure of the logic here, but it seems like he now has to kill the remaining Candidates AND stop Desmond before he can leave. I can't help but think that "destroying the Island" = "sinking the Island", which is exactly what we saw in the Flash Sideways. Does that mean that the Flash Sideways actually represent what happens if SmokeLocke wins, and the series could potentially end with a "choose your own adventure" ending where Reality #1 = our Survivors defeating SmokeLocke and Reality #2 = SmokeLocke winning? Then it's up to the viewer to determine which is really the "happy ending"? Seems kinda lame, but that's the direction I'm heading in right now.

Like I said in the beginning, things are finally moving - but I can't help but wonder how much more enjoyable this season might have been if some of these things had happened earlier to give the audience (and characters) a little more time to think about them, digest them, and theorize about them. As it is, we've got four days before the finale and we're just now getting an idea of where the action is heading. It would have been nice to have this momentum slowly building all season instead of going 0 to 60 in the last moments.

But I digress. This was a great episode of Lost, and there's plenty to discuss. I'm going to try and do a brief analysis (if possible) and a quick episode preview for "The End" (maybe) - but like I said, that's a lot to do in the next four days while I'm out of town.

I will say this - thank you very much for all the nice comments in the past few Blog posts. It's nice to know that people do appreciate the time and effort I put into the Blog, and I'm glad that I've been able to enhance your Lost experience over the years. Someone also suggested now is a good time to do a final "Lost... and Gone Forever Census" - which we've done a few times in the past with always shocking results. So if you want to take part, just post the city / state / country that you're reading from in the Comments Section. I'll tally up the votes after the finale.

For now, discuss!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Lost - "What They Died For"

This is it.

Fight back the tears and keep yourself together – but this might be the very last Lost episode preview ever. I’m going to do my best to get a preview for the finale up, but it’s going to be a crazy week – I’m actually out of town Thursday through Sunday afternoon making the world a better place – stupid community service! - so it’s not guaranteed.

Also, part of me is thinking maybe it’s for the best. After all the angst and debate that followed last week’s episode, maybe it’s time for us to stop over-thinking and over-analyzing, sit back, relax, and just enjoy Lost for one last time. There’s going to be plenty of time to debate Lost once it’s over.

But enough about Sunday’s series finale. What about tomorrow night’s episode?

Episode Title: “What They Died For”

Brian’s Deeper Meaning Guess: This is actually a great question. After a one week hiatus that took us back thousands of years in the history of the Island (and alienated a good chunk of the Lost fanbase in the process), one assumes that the “they” in question are Sun, Jin, and Sayid – three major characters that died two episodes ago. What did they die for?

With Sayid, there’s an easy answer. He died to protect the rest of his friends. He sacrificed himself. He got a little bit of redemption after a season of being a soulless killer.

With Jin, there’s a questionable answer. He died to spend his final moments by the side of his true love, Sun. He died so that she wouldn’t have to spend those final moments alone. It’s noble. It’s sweet. But in all honesty, he abandoned his daughter… and didn’t really have to die.

With Sun, there’s no good answer. She died because of SmokeLocke, but she didn’t die for him. Unlike Sayid and Jin, her death wasn’t due to any decision that she made – it was an accident. To say what she died for is like trying to explain why bad things happen to good people. They just do.

Actually, this episode title got me thinking – could this title refer to something bigger than simply the three deaths last week? What about all the characters who have died over the past six seasons – what did they die for? Were they simply pawns in a game between two bickering brothers? Or was it for a greater cause?

It’s easy to see how some of the deaths brought us to where we are today. Without Charlie dying, the Survivors wouldn’t have been able to contact the Freighter, get off the Island, come back to the Island, complete the Loophole, etc. Without Michael sacrificing himself on the Freighter, more of our Survivors (including three of the Final Four Candidates) might have died there. I can see and understand what they died for – the greater good.

But what about some of the other characters? Like all the innocent people that died in Oceanic 815 to get a few select people on the Island? Or characters like Libby and Ana Lucia who died as a result of the Others stealing Walt (the Others, who in theory, were following Jacob)? They were simply fodder in the bigger picture – unfortunate pawns in a game that was more important than their lives. The Island used them and discarded them (Ilana). What did they die for?

Long ago, I said that the only possible justification for all the carnage we’ve seen over the years is if the end game of Lost involves saving the world – I guess either Reality #1 or Reality #2 at this point, or both. For a story as epic as Lost, it really seems like the only ending that is powerful enough to stand up to it and make it all worthwhile. Not proving man is fundamentally good, not showing that people can find redemption, not finding the key to eternal life – it has to be saving the world, or else I chalk it up to “not worth the cost” in my book.

Here’s my best guess at the meaning behind the episode title – at some point this episode, Jack or Desmond is going to figure out what they need to do to stop SmokeLocke and save the world. It might involve some sacrifice, death, or carrying out a crazy-sounding mission. But their justification for soldiering on is that if they don’t do it, all those people over the years died for nothing. But if they are able to accomplish their mission, they’ll save the world – and then all those deaths will not have been in vain.

Guest Stars: Michelle Rodriguez as Ana Lucia, Mira Furlan as Danielle Rousseau, Alan Dale as Charles Widmore, Tania Raymonde as Alex, Mark Pellegrino as Jacob, Dylan Minnette as David, Sheila Kelley as Zoe, Kenton Duty as Teenage Boy, Wendy Pearson as Nurse Kondracki, Ashlee Kyker as Student, Ernesto Lopez as LAPD Cop.

Guest Star Breakdown: Up first, we have two characters making their “curtain call” as so many characters have done this season - Ana Lucia and CFL. It seems logical that they will appear in the Flash Sideways, as so many of the other dead characters have done this season. Although, let’s not forget that Ana Lucia also appeared as a ghost to Hurley at the start of Season Five – so there’s an outside chance she’ll play the role of “spiritual guide” to our Survivors through Hurley, much like Michael earlier this season. Since most of the family relationships in the Flash Sideways have been consistent with Reality #1 (Ben and his Father, Boone and Shannon, Locke and Helen), smart money is on CFL being Alex’s mother. The real question is – will she be crazy? Or will the moniker CFL no longer apply, forcing me to finally learn to spell “Rousseau”, something I have been putting off since the midway point of Season One on this Blog (December 1, 2004!

The other interesting thing is that this episode features both Jacob and Young Jacob (I guess this press release came out before last week’s episode, but I think it’s about time we start referring to Kenton Duty as “Young Jacob” instead of “Teenage Boy”, don’t you think?) Will we see him growing up in Ghost form? Will he appear as Young Jacob to some but adult Jacob to others to help keep his identity secret? Or will this episode feature both the need for Jacob to get into a really small place and purchase alcohol, requiring both identities to accomplish his goals?

Otherwise, the guest stars seem to be progressing the Flash Sideways storyline? David is back, once again teasing us that his mother will finally be revealed. Alex is back along with Nurse Kondracki (the woman who was having an affair with Principal Reynolds), so apparently we’ve got a little more Benjamin Linus story left – even though it seemed pretty well wrapped up the last time we saw him.

Finally, we’ve got Widmore and Zoe – who owe us an explanation of where they were during “The Candidate” while all their friends got slaughtered by SmokeLocke. Hiding like chickens? Or off furthering their goals, using the attack at Hydra Island as the perfect distraction to sneak back to the Main Island when SmokeLocke wasn’t looking?

Episode Description: While Locke devises a new strategy, Jack's group searches for Desmond.

Episode Breakdown: Hmmm – the first part of this description makes it sound like SmokeLocke is doing a little bit of improvising – that this wasn’t part of his “master plan” that he’s been working on all season (killing all the Candidates). If he’s devising a “new” strategy, it means that the old one doesn’t work (blowing them all up in the Submarine). It puts him in a tough spot – because now the remaining Candidates know he’s coming for them… and the only “weapon” he has left to indirectly kill them seems to be Claire – who might be able to take out Kate (for personal reasons), but not the rest of them. I’ve got no idea where SmokeLocke goes from here because there aren’t any other obvious solutions jumping out at me.

The second part of the description is what we’ve all been anticipating ever since Desmond returned – his reunion with Jack, where all sorts of enlightenment about the end game are revealed. Desmond finally explains what he knows and why he’s been so zen-like since Widmore’s electromagnetic test. At this point, everyone is assuming this end game involves Desmond entering the “heart” of the Island that was revealed last week and… doing something. Something that will probably involve Jack, might involve sinking the Island, but will definitely involve saving the world in some fashion.

…and with that, I think it wraps up the episode preview for this week. We’ve been through a lot together over the years – had our share of good times and bad, agreements and disagreements, terrible Blog posts and only semi-terrible ones - but the important thing is that the Blog has provided the entertainment needed to entertain bored people at work, keep lonely housewives with drinking problems sober for a few hours a week, and give overweight comic book reading nerds living in their parents’ basements the closest thing to real friends that they’ll ever have.

And in the end, aren't these things the most important things of all?

Until tomorrow night, and perhaps for the last time ever…

Happy Losting!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Across the Sea Analysis… or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Lost

In the words of John Locke, I was wrong.

In a way, I think we’ve all been wrong.

We were wrong about our approach to Lost over the years. It’s not our fault, really – it’s the way the show was presented to us from the start – that Lost was going to be one big mystery, a story with a beginning, a middle, and an end. It was a battle of wits between the show’s creators and its viewers. They were leaving little clues along the way, slowly revealing the truth behind the mystery – and we assumed that if you were smart enough, spent enough time thinking about it, researching, and collaborating with others, that we would be able to “figure it out”. That’s pretty much the origin story of this Blog – it was a way for my friends to discuss the show together, to try and figure out what it all meant, where it was heading, and what the ending would be. We were going to outsmart the writers and figure out the ending before they told us. We were wrong.

“Across the Sea” simply solidified something that we should have known all along – there isn’t going to be a clear-cut answer. The hints were there all along. The first season ended by opening the Hatch, but not showing what was inside. It frustrated a lot of people – people who wanted answers – but allowed the audience to spend the summer speculating and debating, discussing Lost. Over the next five seasons, they have thrown enough characters, side stories, and mythology at us that it required a degree of obsessiveness to keep it all straight. We’ve been waiting for the big reveal, when they throw back the curtain and magically tie EVERYTHING together – Jacob, Smokey, Dharma, Hanso, the Others, the Swan Hatch Implosion, the Incident, Widmore, Ben, the crazy connections between all our Survivors, the whispers, the time travel, the funky time, the FDW, and Jacob’s Cabin. We were hoping that at the end of this season, we’d all say “Oh! I get it – that’s how all of these pieces of the puzzle fit together – it was all building up towards this ending! Now I understand it all!”

But if you think about it, that kinda “closes the book” on Lost.

It’s going to piss a lot of people off, but I think the creators of Lost are going in the complete opposite direction – they’re going to leave the book open. They’re going to leave volumes of unanswered questions – and questions that they only provide vague answers to, so that Lost lives on. The debate can continue. People can continue to pull together pieces of the overall Lost storyline to draw their own conclusions.

The book of Lost is going to stay open forever.

If you’ve listened to the interviews and podcasts with Damon and Carlton over the years, you’ll notice that they continually refuse to answer some questions, telling us that it’s open to interpretation. A lot of us assumed that this was code for “we can’t reveal the true answer yet” – but now I think it’s clear that it was code for “we’re not going to answer it so that Lost can be everything to everyone.” There are no right or wrong answers. It’s kinda like interpreting art, or interpreting song lyrics – it’s going to be something different for everyone, but it’s going to be something personal for each person as well.

So how does this make you feel?

To some, it’s a beautiful thing. Lost truly becomes a work of art – the type of thing that can be discussed and revisited unlimited times over the years, each time connecting with the viewer in a different way based on where they are at in life. Philosophy classes can dive in and dissect the big questions that Lost posed – and in true philosophy fashion, not have any right or wrong answers. Lost is about life. Life is about big questions that can’t be answered. But the important thing is that we ask them and think about them.

To some, it’s the worst thing ever. We were promised answers (indirectly from the show’s creators over the years, directly from the ABC promos this season), and while we are getting some answers to minor things, a lot of the major ones are left dangling. It’s a story without an ending. While it’s fun to have each person make up their own interpretations, we want to know the interpretations of the show’s creators, whether we agree with them or not. Life is already full of unanswered questions. Lost doesn’t need to be one of them.

Where do I fall in this debate?

Like Natalie Imbruglia, I’m torn. Part of me likes that this means Lost will never end. Years from now, I can come back to it and view it totally differently than I view it today. People can continue to debate it and draw meaning from it. It becomes this living, breathing thing that lives on even after the show ends.

On the other hand, I think that by doing this, the writers have kinda cheated. By knowing that they were never going to have to definitively answer some of these big questions, it’s allowed them to use them as plot points and twist them in ways that almost become contradictory. Those of us who are looking for the big answers to tie them all together have worked long and hard to try and tie together all the things we know into one cohesive theory – but it’s impossible (see: explaining Jacob’s Cabin). That’s my problem with it.

I have yet to talk to anyone who loved “Across the Sea”. The reactions have ranged from indifference to downright hatred. A lot of this can be blamed on the production values, child actors, pacing, and the lack of firm answers that so many people assumed were forthcoming. But the funny thing is that once you accept that Lost isn’t going to give you these firm answers, this episode provided a lot of fodder for discussion and debate – perhaps more so than any other episode this season. Isn’t that what the Lost experience has always been about?

Yes, Lost has decided to go a route that is going to make a lot of people angry. But when you stop worrying about needing the answers, it’s a lot easier to appreciate what they have given us – a whole hell of a lot of entertainment.

With that, let’s get into the analysis of “Across the Sea” – or should I say, MY analysis of “Across the Sea”. Your analysis could be totally different – but it’s not right or wrong (a soldier’s last breath, his baby’s being born), that’s the beauty of Lost:

Light. The lack of definitive answers has never been more evident than it was with the magically, gooey, bright, warm light that we saw this episode. It seems as though it’s the source of the “unique electromagnetic properties” of the Island, the reason why so many weird things happen there, and is the thing that makes the Island so important. It’s the heart and soul of the Island, but what in the hell is it?


According to The Woman:

“It’s light. The warmest, brightest light you've ever seen or felt. And we must make sure that no one ever finds it. Because a little bit of this very same light is inside of every man. But they always want more. And if they tried they could put it out. And if the light goes out here... it goes out everywhere. It is life, death, and rebirth. It’s the source, the heart of the island…”

With that explanation, it literally could be anything. If you want to get sappy, it could be something like love. If you want to get science-y, it could be something like electricity. If you want to get spiritual, it could be something like a soul.

Me? I want to get logical… and the most logical thing I can come up with to explain the light is that it is POWER.

There’s a little bit of power inside of everyone, if someone tries to gain all the power, it goes out (i.e. – uncontrolled power could destroy the world). We each have the power to create life (bow-chika-wow-wow), kill people, and be reborn – to start fresh and pick ourselves up after we fall… redemption (you know, kinda like the central theme of Lost).

It also works well to tie in this explanation with Widmore – although it seems as though Widmore may have some altruistic intentions, we’ve also been told by Ben that he wants to harness the power of the Island for his own personal gain. For reasons unknown, the Island is home to ridiculous power, the side effects of which are the “unique electromagnetic properties we’ve seen”, a power so strong that if manipulated (FDW), it can bend time (funky time and time travel) and space (move the Island).

Hmmm – maybe we’re going to stumble upon some overall answers in this analysis after all!

The other thing The Woman told us about the light?

“No matter what you do, you won’t ever go down there. It’d be worse than dying… much worse.”

Smokey and The Woman. At the conclusion of the episode, Jacob threw Anti-Jacob into the heart of the Island, and out roared Smokey. Was this the “birth” of the Smoke Monster we all know and love?

I don’t think so.

There are two huge pieces of evidence that Smokey existed before the Anti-Jacob incident:

  1. The fact that The Woman knows the repercussions of going into the heart of the Island. How would she know unless she had seen it happen before?
  2. The bodies at the Roman Camp massacre looked just like the Pilot’s body after being attacked by Smokey… and unless you’re a Smoke Monster, I don’t know how else you could quickly kill all those people AND fill in their FDW hole.


With all these hints that Smokey existed pre-Anti-Jacob, where was he this episode?

Right before our eyes, in the shape of The Woman.

Get ready for the “big theory” portion of the Blog Post:

I think that The Woman was Jacob and Smokey all rolled into one. She was THE protector of the Island. Where did she come from? From the little information she gave, it sounds like she arrived on the Island “by accident”, just like Claudia – but that’s not important. This episode clearly is as far back in time as we’ll ever see on Lost, so let’s just accept that The Woman has been there for a really long time. She was the single entity who understood the power of the Island and her job was to protect it, no matter what the cost.

Periodically, people would accidentally end up on the Island, and she would observe them – which is how she came to develop her views about mankind. “They come, they fight, they destroy, they corrupt... and it always ends the same.” Unfortunately for The Woman, protecting the Island is a long, boring job – one that she wished that she could give up, to be released from duty and be allowed to enter the after-life where she can hang out with all of her old drinking buddies. But she knew that she couldn’t entrust the job to a single man – he would probably abuse the power / destroy the Island (or world). But what if she could somehow split the powers among multiple men? A little separation of powers – two entities that are separate but equal who would keep each other in line and serve very different functions – but the combination of the two of them would achieve her desired goal – protecting the power of the Island.

The wheels were in motion. Now all she needed was two people to mold into these roles – and she got exactly that when Claudia showed up.

(Aside: I’m not sure if The Woman truly brought Claudia to the Island the same way that we’re supposed to believe that Jacob brought our Survivors to the Island. She did say that she arrived “by accident”, but could be lying. However, I find it hard to believe that given the era that The Woman and Claudia lived in that it would have been easy to travel from the Island to Rome (or wherever) and back. I really do think it was an accident that brought Claudia to the Island – an accident that The Woman was waiting a very long time for.)

From there, The Woman carried out her plan, cleverly manipulating the two boys into the roles she needed – a calm, loyal protector (Jacob) and a strong-minded angry enforcer (Anti-Jacob). It’s easy to see how everything we saw in “Across the Sea” was part of this master plan.

Ghost Claudia appears to Anti-Jacob (but not Jacob), which helps drive him away.

The Woman allows Anti-Jacob to grow up with mankind to understand how terrible it is, effectively giving him the same views that she has (and we know he retained these views, since he repeated her “They come, they fight, they destroy, they corrupt... and it always ends the same” speech to Jacob years later.

Once Anti-Jacob gets too close to leaving the Island with the FDW, it’s go time. The Woman knocks him out, kills all his people, and blocks his attempt to leave the Island. She knows this will infuriate him to the point of killing her.

The Woman quickly takes Jacob to the Heart of the Island to force him to become the Protector of the Island (note that she doesn’t give him a choice in the matter). She then sends him to collect firewood, to give Anti-Jacob the opportunity to kill her.


The Woman knew that once Jacob discovered her dead body, he would throw Anti-Jacob into the Heart of the Island, thanks to all the little hints she dropped along the way (i.e. – “you can’t kill Anti-Jacob” and “going into the Heart of the Island won’t kill you, but it will be worse”)

The plan played out exactly as she wanted. With her death, Jacob became the Protector of the Island without having to go into the Heart of the Island himself. By throwing Anti-Jacob into the Heart of the Island, he became Smokey – gaining all the power needed to protect the Island, but not actually being the official Protector of the Island. Jacob is there to do the thinking, Anti-Jacob is there to do the killing. The Woman’s plan worked.

Anti-Jacob is basically trapped, like the Genie in Aladdin. Jacob gets to come and go from the Island as he pleases, but always returns because he likes it there – and has a job to do. Anti-Jacob is more of a prisoner to the Island, wanting nothing more than to leave... and so begins everything we saw starting with the scene between the two of them in “The Incident”.

(Note: Isn’t it ironic that the two individuals that have “been” the Smoke Monster didn’t have true names? The Woman and Anti-Jacob. That’s gotta be intentional on the writers’ part, but I’m not sure why.)

I have to give it to The Woman and Anti-Jacob. When they make a plan, they make a plan – it might take years to see through and involve so many moving parts that it almost seems impossible to guarantee it’ll work – but in the case of the Separation of Power and The Loophole, both took a really long and complicated path to finally achieve their goals. That’s good project management right there.

That pretty much sums up the meat of the episode, doesn’t it?

Looking back, there were a lot of interesting little scenes (like Anti-Jacob talking to Jacob as if he is a detached god, “That’s easy for you to say. Looking down on us from above. Trust me, I’ve lived among them for 30 years.” It’s curious that this is exactly what Jacob ends up being, pre-Alpert. A god who wants people to do things on their own without his involvement), but I can’t think of anything else that requires any heavy thinking and analysis.

Where do we go from here?

I wonder if Jacob found himself in a similar predicament as The Woman – that mankind sucks, so how could he ever find a replacement if Anti-Jacob was successful in killing him? Although he started with a large number of potential candidates, I wonder if instead of trying to whittle the list down to one “winner”, he’s actually looking to whittle the list down to a group of “winners” – the final Candidates, our Survivors. Maybe he’s looking to take the Separation of Power one step further, to prevent the issues that he encountered with his brother wanting to kill him. If there were a group of people who all shared the responsibility, it’s possible that you could build a happy little utopia on the Island, where they both protect the Island and live a happy little existence in their own community.

It’s a little “Captain Planet”, but looking at the remaining Candidates on the Island, you’ve got the heart (Hurley), brains (Jack), and brawn (Sawyer). We’re all looking for one single replacement for Jacob – but it’s possible he could take it one step further and create a trinity of people to become the Protectors of the Island (hello, religious symbolism!)

The Outrigger. Finally, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I’d rather have you hear it from me than from some stranger on the street. We’re never going to see the other side of the Juliet / Outrigger scene. Read this interview (which reiterates a lot of my points from the start of this Blog post), and focus on this question and answer from Damon and Carlton:

Q: Okay, finally, I have to ask, simply because it's been driving me nuts for a year and a half: what's going on with showing the other half of the outrigger shootout?

CC: The outrigger shootout is not something we're bending around in gyrations so we can solve it. In the grand scheme of the show, that is a fairly obscure piece of the show. It is your particular obsession...

DL: ...and you're not alone in it.

CC: You're not alone in it. And yes, it would have been great if we had had the opportunity to close the time loop. But you can't get everything done and keeping the narrative going in a straight line. This is one of those things where we made a very conscious choice to ask, "What are the big questions? And most importantly, what are the paths of these characters? Where do they lead?" And we followed those paths and tried not to trip ourselves up getting too diverted from that. We felt that that's the thing that's ultimately going to make the finale work or not work. We got to the point where we made the finale we wanted to make, that was our approach, and I think it was the only approach we could take. We sat here in my office, had breakfast every day for six years, talked about the show, and we used this gut check methodology, where if we both loved something and thought it was cool, that would go in. We applied that same methodology to the finale, and that was the only way we could do it. We came up with a finale that we thought was cool, that was emotional and one we really liked. That's the best we could do.

DL: When we wrote that scene and somebody started shooting at them, we knew exactly who was shooting at them. That is not a dangling thread that we don't know the answer to. That being said, as we started talking about paying that off this season, it felt like the episode was at the service of closing the time loop, as opposed to what the characters might actually be doing in that scenario. It never felt organic. We decided we would rather take our lumps from the people who couldn't scratch that itch than to produce an episode that was in service of putting people in an outrigger and getting shot at.

Q: You put people in a lot of outriggers this season. It feels, frankly, like you're taunting me.

DL: We can't entirely deny that we're taunting you.

CC: Honestly, though, the logistics of getting all the participants in the outriggers in the configuration that was on the A-side of the time loop was actually really daunting.

DL: Considering half of them had been killed off

CC: It's not like we didn't want to do it. Like Damon says, it was just too much of a narrative deviation to do it.

To me, that kinda sucks. One, it means that as recently as one season ago, the writers still didn’t actually have the ending of Lost plotted out well enough to actually get to the tail end of storylines they were introducing at the time. Unlike The Woman and Anti-Jacob, that’s poor project management. It’s also a little frustrating that they had plenty of episodes earlier this season to carry out the conclusion to this scene (honestly, are there any characters that haven’t been on Outriggers at one point this season?), but chose not to because they were afraid to “pull the trigger” (pun!) and potentially kill off a main character before the very end of the season.

But remember – there’s no reason to get angry about this. We just need to accept that this is the show that Lost is going to be – the kind of show where questions won’t be answered, but the questions that will be posed will be very good. Stop worrying and love the Lost – we’ve only got three and a half hours left.

It seems as though another line from the episode was directed at us, the viewers, as if it was uttered by Damon and Carlton themselves:

“Every question I answer will simply lead to another question. Just be grateful you're alive.”

Amen to that.

Until next week!